Australian noise violators Lo! made an impressive entrance upon the world two years ago with the release of their startling and riveting debut album Look And Behold, now the return with its successor Monstrorum Historia, a sonic beast of a release which took everything bred on the first album to new and scintillating heights whilst exploring greater expanses of invention. It is a corrosive tempest, a mesh of hardcore, black and crushing sludge, and prime metal which is ferocious and wonderfully exhausting. To catch up with the band and find out more about their new album we had the pleasure to talk with Carl Whitbread again.
Hi and welcome back to The RingMaster Review.
We last spoke about Lo! with you at the tail end of 2011 around the release of your debut Look And Behold. Bring us up to date to what has happened with the band since, apart from creating another thrilling titan in the shape of the excellent Monstrorum Historia.
Since the release of ‘Look and Behold’, we’ve been playing around Aus as much as possible. We’ve been really lucky to get a lot of international supports here including Doomriders, Eyehategod, Burning Love, Russian Circles and Rosetta. We have also just finished a 25 day European tour with The Ocean and Cult of Luna which has been the experience of a lifetime!
How would you say your sound and adventure has evolved between albums?
The first album was mostly written and recorded by myself at home before any members even joined the band. Once we had established our current line-up, we tweaked the demos and added a couple more tracks and that became ‘Look and Behold’. This time round, we had obviously been playing together for over 3 years, so we were more of a ‘real band’ and knew each other much better as musicians and friends. The rough foundation for most of the songs were still written by me but there was input from everyone this time round which I think really helped push us further into our own sound.
Was there anything you learned making Look And Behold which you took into the recording of Monstrorum Historia to help make its creation smoother or gave it a particular flame inventively?
Well to be honest simply recording Monstrorum properly in a studio as a band was a massive improvement over the way we did ‘Look and Behold’. That album was thrown together in bits and pieces over a long period of time, things were recorded separately, drums were added over demos, vocals were done at 3 different locations etc., so it was a very non-tradition way of doing things. This time everything was done all at once so it was a much more ‘organic’ process and I think that showed in the final result.
Your sound has always been varied and pushing its limits but Monstrorum Historia takes that to another level whilst still having a presence which is distinctly Lo!; Was there any particular intent or aim musically when writing the new release in that area?
There was never any particular aim, just to write songs that flowed well and sounded good. We didn’t want to stray too far from what we had already established, but at the same time, step our sound up a to ‘second album standard’. It was a bit of a balancing act but thankfully it seemed to come pretty easily to us.
Lo And Behold set a certain benchmark for your songwriting and sound which the new album has raised to another level, but did that early success and creative plateau give you any extra personal pressure when it came to this new release?
It certainly did. The ‘Look and Behold’ songs had been written so long ago, and at a time before the band even existed, so there was a casualness to the whole song writing process. Now as an established band with a release under our belt, we definitely wondered if we’d be able to step up what we had already done, especially as there was a really short time period to get the songs written. One thing we were very aware of during the whole process is not making the songs sound rushed or just thrown together – we even ended up scrapping a couple that just didn’t seem to have the ‘Lo!’ vibe.
Did you approach the songs and recording of Monstrorum Historia differently to its predecessor then?
The song writing was pretty similar to ‘Look and Behold’- most of it was written and demoed at home. The main difference was this time there was a great deal of input from everyone. We all worked together in shaping the final result. As mentioned before, the recording process was more traditional this time and a lot of it was tracked together live. When it came to sound, we tried getting everything sounding the way we wanted from the start, instead of relying on too many mixing tricks.
Once more you explore dark corners and shadows with your songs, breeding a sonic antagonism and caustic wash which is as enthralling as it is intrusive. Do you closely sculpt the balance between both types of affects or does it naturally emerge as you bring songs to fruition?
It feels like a pretty natural process to me, but I guess that comes with time and experience and having a range of musical tastes and influences. There’s always some conscious thought about the balancing act, and we’re always aware not to stray too far from our sound, but it never feels forced.
Your most ferocious collection of songs to date would you agree?
Definitely. I think we just rolled with the vibe a bit more on this album and let the songs be what they should be. I also think the contribution of everyone this time led to a more ferocious sound, especially in the drum department. On the first album, Adrian was playing more or less what I had written, but this time as we wrote together he really let loose. Lot’s more double kick and blast beats \m/
Is there a particular moment or feel within Monstrorum Historia which gives you the strongest satisfaction?
Everything about it gives me satisfaction, haha. The fact that we wrote and recorded the whole thing in about 4 months, in amongst jobs / wives / girlfriends / kids, was a massive achievement (albeit a stressful one!). I also have a soft spot for the intro track ‘As Above’… the first half of that song was actually written for a trailer for an Australian horror series, but got rejected. I had always really liked it and thought it would make the perfect intro to this album, so I’m glad it got to see the light of day.
Tell us about instrumental Haven, Beneath Weeping Willows, a piece of music which for us provides a rapacious canvas for evolving imagery and thoughts to explore and be inspired by. What was the story behind it and its aural narrative?
This piece of music was the last song written for Monstrorum. I felt the album needed a bit of breathing space in the form of a quieter track. I had that bass riff lying around for a while which I hadn’t used for anything so we basically jammed it out in the recording studio and all the layers built up from there. We also got in our good friend and fellow drummer Ben Ellingworth to help out with the extra percussion pieces.
Once again also there are mischievous shadows within the album as with your last; is this a particular Australian trait of character do you think as you seem not alone amongst artists from down under in having that kind of humour in their music.
I think it’s very hard to grow up in Australia and not approach everything you do with a bit of humor, no matter how seriously you take things. That’s what we love the most about Australia. Everyone can completely take the piss out of themselves, but still do really awesome shit at the same time.
Tell us about your upcoming tour.
We’re about to head around the east coast of Aus to promote the album. We’re bringing High Tension along with us – an amazing band from Melbourne who plays ballsy Mark of Cain style rock with a crazy screaming female singer. We also have killer supports in each city too.
Any plans for the rest of 2013 and beyond ready to be revealed yet?
Nothing set in stone yet, we’d like to possibly release a 7″ later in the year, and hopefully we can get back over to Europe!
Many thanks for taking time to talk with us again, and good luck with the tour etc. Any final thoughts you would like to unleash?
Cheers for the interview Pete, always a pleasure!
Read the Monstrorum Historia review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/lo-monstrorum-historia/
The RingMaster Review 25/06/2013
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